Recruiters spend an average of six seconds looking at your resume to see if you’re a fit for a particular position. Not minutes – seconds. While recruiters who place investment bankers may spend a bit more time than that, virtually no one reads a CV from top to bottom. Rather, their eyes jump to specific areas to look for key details. Some of these areas you can improve on in the hope of earning an interview, others you are stuck with. Here are the first five things a recruiter looks to when assessing your investment banking CV. (Participating recruiters asked for anonymity).
School: Every single investment banking recruiter we talked to said the same thing. The first thing they do is to check to see where you got your MBA. If you graduated from a top-10 school (some say top five), your recruiter’s life just got a lot easier. Once you are out of the top-20 schools, the perceived difference in the rankings is negligible, said one recruiter. You’re either coming from a top school or you’re just one of the rest. Recruiters also look at GPA and year graduated, so be sure to include those.
Promotion history: For people who have been in the business for more than two years, a track record of promotions becomes critical. Exemplary investment bankers tend to follow a standard timeline of graduating from associate to analyst and on to vice president in two or three-year stretches. If you’ve been languishing in one role for years, they’ll notice.
Metrics: As with any resume, recruiters want to see accomplishments, not responsibilities. Size of deals and the value you personally provided should be detailed. Add as many positive metrics as you can, along with details on products you’ve sold.
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Relationships: This can be rather difficult, as no one should be dropping names on CVs, but recruiters are always looking to distinguish revenue generators from middling team members. If you have strong relationships with potential buyers and investors, make that clear. “We want to know: are you going to pick up the phone and call 10 people or will you have to send out a pitch to 500 people whom you’ve never met?” said one recruiter. “Are you a cog in the wheel or a difference maker?”
Job hopping: Another factor mentioned by every recruiter we spoke to. Like in other industries, having too many jobs in a short period of time says something. Banks are using more discretion with their hiring post-crisis, and tenure within an organization appears to be one of the factors they’re looking at. Recruiters also mentioned that they immediately look to see if you are currently working, but you probably knew that.